By Amber Minogue
Amber is one of two administrators that supports the implementation work for the Colorado Teen Parent Collaborative. If you are interested in learning more about what they do, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
Topics of substance use and mental health can be difficult to navigate for any new parent, and being a teen parent can have additional challenges. You are learning to navigate life as a young person at the same time as you’re learning to become a parent, which can be stressful! The stigma surrounding mental health and substance use issues can make it difficult to access support that can make a big difference for both you and your children. Additionally, your experiences with mental health may differ from that of an adult parent, requiring loved ones and health care providers to consider different approaches when providing support.
Struggling with mental health may look different for you, a teen parent, than it would for an adult. For example, with depression, you may feel irritable and experience angry outbursts rather than low energy and a loss of interest in activities–the typical signs of depression. Similarly, with issues of substance use, adolescents are more likely to use alcohol, marjiuana, and tobacco as compared to controlled substances including prescription drugs, or other substances like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines.
Keeping in mind these differences, it is important for teens and the people who support them to understand their unique needs. Here are a few examples:
- It is helpful to acknowledge your own resiliency and strengths when working on your relationships with others.
- If you are experiencing early symptoms of depression, seeking out a therapeutic relationship with an engaged mental health professional can make a big difference and prevent symptoms from worsening.
- The stigma surrounding substance use can make it very difficult to access help. Acknowledging that the #1 goal is to reduce the harmful effects of substance use as much as possible, you can begin to work with your support system to manage your substance use over time.
If you are struggling with mental health or substance use, there are a number of resources that are ready to provide support. The Colorado Teen Parent Collaborative (TPC) is a unified community of organizations that strives to build capacity and connection for its members and advocate for teen parents and their children. The TPC has compiled some resources to help providers, caregivers, and loved ones better understand the issues of substance use and mental health specific to teen parents. You can access a webinar on mental health on the TPC website, and a webinar on substance use, adolescence, and the intersection with teen parents at this link. The TPC also has a resource directory on its website where you can find teen parent-specific services no matter where you live in Colorado.
Tough as a Mother, a public awareness campaign, which aims to decrease stigma around maternal substance use disorders, and connect pregnant and parenting women with the treatment and support they deserve, also has a resource directory with substance use-specific programming across Colorado. Finally, if you live in the Denver Metro area, you can access care at the Colorado Adolescent Maternity Parenting and Family Program (CAMP) at University Hospital, where they provide evidence-based care for pregnant and parenting adolescent parents and their families, including mental health support, pediatric care, and social work support.